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Trade unions say Britain ‘needs a pay rise’ in 2022 as cost of living crisis looms

Frances O’Grady claimed the UK is ‘in the longest period of pay stagnation since the Napoleonic wars’

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) is calling on the government to ‘give Britain a pay rise in 2022, amid concerns that the cost of living is set to rise considerably in the new year.

The TUC’s general secretary criticised the Conservative government, saying it has “failed over and over again” over the last 11 years to get wages rising above the rate of inflation.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • In an open letter, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady has called for a rise in the minimum wage to “at least £10 per hour” in 2022, claiming that wages are “barely set to move between now and 2026”
  • O’Grady also criticised the current rate of sick pay in the UK, which is among the lowest among developed nations, as being “measly”
  • The TUC is also calling for a ban on “fire and rehire”, zero hours contracts, an end to outsourcing and sector wide pay agreements, particularly for those working in social care
  • More than three in five social care workers are paid less than £10 per hour, according to O’Grady
  • Responding to the letter, a government spokesperson said that minimum wage will rise to £9.50 per hour in April, and that “real wages have grown since the start of the pandemic” 

What’s been said?

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Our economy will only recover when working people can afford to spend in local shops and businesses. That’s the way to boost demand, grow the economy and protect jobs.

“This Conservative government has had eleven years to get wages rising. And they have failed, over and over again.

“We are still in the longest period of pay stagnation since the Napoleonic wars. Real wages for millions are less than they were before the bankers’ crisis in 2008.

“And, unless ministers act now, the future looks bleak. Real wages are set to barely move between now and 2026. They will go up by a miserable £760 in total - about £150 a year.

“So, in 2022, we need a long-term economic plan to get wages rising across the economy. If we could get real wage growth to mirror the average growth in the ten years before the global financial crash, real wages would grow by £500 per year - leaving workers £2500 per year better off by 2026.

“If this Conservative government had achieved that over the past lost decade, workers would be around £8,000 better off today in real terms.”

A Government Spokesperson said: “We are increasing the wages of millions of workers by raising the National Living Wage to £9.50 an hour in April - an extra £1,000 a year for a full-time worker.

“On top of this an effective tax rate cut worth £2.2 billion for 2 million of the lowest earning families came into effect before Christmas – meaning that workers on Universal Credit will be, on average, £1,000 better off per year.

They added: “Next year millions of nurses, teachers and members of the armed forces are set to see their pay rise thanks to the end of the public sector pay freeze announced at Budget this year. Real wages have grown since the start of the pandemic, and are 3.4% above pre-pandemic levels.”